Singapore Wooing Top Stem Cell Research Scientists to Replace South Korea

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Singapore Wooing Top Stem Cell Research Scientists to Replace South Korea Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 14, 2006

Singapore ( — Singapore is looking to replace South Korea as the number one international destination for stem cell research and is luring top scientists from around the globe with modern, high-tech labs and large sums of government money.

Two top California scientists have spurned lucrative offers at Stanford University to head to the Asian nation but they’re just some of the highly sought after recruits research universities and private companies worldwide are seeking.

Japan, China and even South Korea are touting their research programs and spending lavish amounts of taxpayer money on financing stem cell research ventures.

But Singapore is spending so much it’s standing out in the crowd. It has already put in $4 billion U.S. into biotechnology and has committed another $8 billion by 2010, according to an AP report.

The nation has named its research Mecca Biopolis and has a sprawling facility 10 stories tall and connected by impressive skywalks.

"I am absolutely amazed at what they have. It’s just knock-dead gorgeous," Dr. Judith Swain, a University of California, San Diego researcher who left for Singapore in September, told AP.

Swain’s husband, Dr. Edward Holmes, who is dean of the UCSD medical school, is also leaving for Singapore.

Alan Colman, the British researcher who helped Ian Wilmut clone Dolly the sheep, and National Institutes of Health researchers Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins are others who are calling Singapore home.

Singapore allows human cloning for research purposes, but the human embryo that is created must be killed within 14 days. That upsets pro-life groups who say it mandates the destruction of human life by having scientists kill days old unborn children.

The law specifically prohibits the implantation of a cloned human embryo into a human or animal womb. By prohibiting implantation, reproductive cloning can be banned.

Pro-life organizations have criticized the growing interest in embryonic stem cell research, as it involves the destruction of a human embryo to harvest stem cells that have not shown any scientific evidence of being medically useful.

Adult stem cells, however, have proven to be useful in treating various diseases, and do not require the destruction of a human life. Dozens of treatments and cures have already developed from the research.